RELEASE DATE: 25 Jun, 2017

EDITORIAL BY William Wroblewski

In 2014, the city of La Paz was named one of the Seven New Urban Wonders of the World by the New7Wonders Foundation. This global distinction came after a long and hard-fought campaign spearheaded by the city government and local citizens. It remains a badge of honour for us, as well as a central theme of the city’s efforts to bolster tourism. This award is both a boon to, and result of, La Paz’s emergence onto the world stage.

The attention given to the city is not unwarranted. The teleférico system has revolutionised transport here, for citizens and guests alike. The city’s gastronomic reputation is gaining renown as new restaurants, cafés and bars are focusing on local ingredients to create a distinct modern cuisine. The arts in this city are gaining more and more support as musicians and theatres receive more recognition abroad and more support locally, and the walls of the city come to life with bright murals by local artists. The list of ways in which La Paz is evolving, both culturally and economically, sometimes seems endless.

Such recognition as bestowed on La Paz in the past few years does not come without work. While a city may grow and improve organically in some ways, gaining attention from abroad does take planning and coordination. A lot of thought has gone into how La Paz presents itself, and what this presentation means. In some ways, its identity is carefully crafted, honed (albeit in a decentralised way) to put the city’s best face forward. Much like a person carefully shaping their identity through edited posts and rehearsed smiles on social media, performance is the name of the game, as the city creates a more modern and trendy image and shares it with the world.

We want to look at performance as a way to understand the things happening around us. In La Paz, as anywhere, people are performing every day: in the street, on stages, in work meetings, at social functions. The clothes we wear, the words we use, the actions we take, all put forward representations of who we are, or at least who we want to be. In this issue of Bolivian Express, we take a look at the people, organisations, and places around us, and explore the relationships between who or what they are, how they present themselves, and how we see and interpret them. By looking at Bolivia in this way, we refuse to take things at face value and commit to digging deeper to make sense of why things are shown as they are.

We look at traditional performers, and what they put into their craft, from standup comedians to Bolivian K-pop fanatics. We visit the Conservatorio Plurinacional de Música to review the state of opera and classical music in Bolivia, and spend an afternoon with Juan Carlos Aduviri, a renown Bolivian actor honing his vision for a cinematic style that is purely alteño. And we meet a group of homeless young people living on the street and changing their lives through hip-hop. We also learn about the performance of work, and hear from Bolivian entrepreneurs to understand how they use their experiences to present innovative ideas to local and international marketplaces. And a young bartender talks about his goals for reinventing La Paz’s cocktail scene, using taste, smell (palo santo! tobacco!) and sight to create inspired and stunning drinks.

La Paz’s ascent onto the international stage is undeniable. Plenty of international attention has been paid to this city as a cultural, culinary, and general tourist destination. Hopefully this issue of Bolivian Express helps spread the word on what La Paz and the rest of Bolivia has to offer, and to encourage everyone to stop and watch the show that is life here. It is one not to be missed.


Success and The Inner Game

25 Jun, 2017 | Mohammed Junaid

Photo: William WroblewskiJuan Carlos Aduviri’s rise as an international actorHe’s holding a metal frame he fabricated with screws and tape to stabilise a tiny GoPro action camera. I seem to be in the...

Singers without a stage

25 Jun, 2017 | Yolande Rowson

Illustration: Hugo L. CuéllarRegenerating the classical music scene in BoliviaEven a cursory glance around the Conservatorio Plurinacional de Música will tell you that the classical music scene in Bol...

Potter Paradise

25 Jun, 2017 | Sophie Hogan

Photo: Sophie HoganBolivia Joins the Harry Potter Party Around the WorldWith hundreds of thousands of websites, chat rooms and clubs dedicated to the saga, the famous magical world of Harry Potter is...

A Force for Good

25 Jun, 2017 | Sophie Hogan

Photo: Sophie HoganClaudia Cárdenas is touching lives with Fundación VIVAAfter being ushered up to the third floor of the VIVA headquarters in Calacoto, a well-off neighbourhood in La Paz, we see Clau...

La Maldita Comedia

25 Jun, 2017 | Alex Walker

Photo: Sophie HoganCreating Comedy and Culture‘Comedy strengthens us, it stresses us, it helps us, because when we create material we are analysing ourselves,’ Yumi Roca tells me. Yet, as La Maldita C...

Tinder in Bolivia

25 Jun, 2017 | Yolande Rowson and Alex Walker

A swipe to the right, a super-like, a winking emoji: these are the sonnets and perfumed love letters of a techno-literate generation. There is no environment with a higher pressure to perform, where s...

Esencia de Lleca

25 Jun, 2017 | Yolande Rowson

Photos: Nick SomersEssence of the StreetIt’s a Thursday afternoon on the Prado. A group of young men with microphones linked up to a portable speaker are in full swing, rapping about everything from d...

A Master Of His Craft

25 Jun, 2017 | Sophie Hogan

Photos: Nick somers and Sophie HoganHumo Mixologist Josué Grajeda Lino has his artform down to a teeWhen I tell Josué Grajeda Lino, the bartender at Humo's bar - The Whiskería - that I'm just not sure...

Total Immersion

25 Jun, 2017 | Alex Walker

Photos: Nick Somers, William Wroblewski, Adriana Murillo The Bolivian Cult of K-Pop RevisitedBack in 2014, I wrote about and investigated the curiously popular Korean pop scene in Bolivia for BX4...

Malabarista fashion

25 Jun, 2017 | Caroline Risacher

Photos: Nick somers and Fabian ZapataOr, how to dress like a hippieThe 2017 guidebook on how to be a hippie is very clear:Be from Argentina, Chile, or ColombiaCongregate in specific places in South Am...

Successful Entrepreneurs in Bolivia – What’s the secret?

25 Jun, 2017 | Mohammed Junaid

Photos: William WroblewskiStay Hungry. . . Stay FoolishAt first glance, the entrepreneurship scene in La Paz seems quiet. and Techstars groups barely meet, and a startup incubator is hard t...